Let’s go over the key steps of 2023 for Haenir Studio and discover what we can expect from Blight: Survival in 2024.
The year 2023 bears the indelible mark of remarkable progress of Blight: Survival, Haenir Studio’s highly anticipated medieval apocalyptic co-operative extraction-lite.
Originally crafted by a two-person team, the project captivated nearly everyone, ourselves included, due to its impeccable technical and artistic execution, the team’s meticulous attention to every detail, and the captivating concept envisioned by the developers: a medieval-themed video game set amidst a zombie apocalypse.
Since then, the team has experienced exponential growth, both in resources and awareness, with an expanded roster now comprising top-tier developers and industry veterans that make Haenir Studio even more seasoned and talented than before.
So, without further ado, let’s delve into the developers’ journey throughout 2023 and anticipate what they might bring to the table in the coming year.
But first, a brief recap
Do you remember what Blight: Survival is? No? Don’t worry, we’re here to refresh your memory.
Developed by Haenir Studio, a small indie game company located in northern Sweden, precisely in Umeå, Blight: Survival is a cooperative action-adventure set in an alternate 14th century, marred by a deadly affliction known as the “Blight.”
The game takes place in the no man’s land between two desperate kingdoms in a ceaseless war. Within this purgatory, a new strain of Blight has erupted from remains of the fallen. Fed and empowered by the spilled blood, it rapidly spreads, turning humans into monstrous entities.
As the people bleed, paralyzed by war, they have turned to you and your kin. Being the only ones willing, you’ve been tasked to venture forth and vanquish the all-consuming Blight.
Blight: Survival promises a unique and exhilarating gaming experience, laying the foundation for a new genre. This hybrid seamlessly blends mechanics and elements typical of the Roguelike genre with extraction video games, resulting in a gritty third-person action-adventure that appeals to both newcomers and seasoned veterans.
Have we mentioned this before? Well, let’s drive the point home. In Blight: Survival, players will confront a level of violence that is unmatched, raw, and unfiltered. Players will have the ability to decapitate, impale, and dispatch the infected in the most gruesome ways imaginable, without a hint of mercy. After all, don’t expect any favors from them!
The game is still deep in development, in its pre-alpha stage, powered by Unreal Engine 5. As the developers have clarified, the recent gameplay reveal serves primarily as a conceptual demonstration, a prototype, aiming to showcase the level of ambition Haenir Studio aspires to achieve for players.
Of course, it’s still early days, but if the final product were to match or even come close to the gameplay reveal, it would be truly remarkable. The key will be understanding how the team at Haenir Studio leverages the capabilities and immense potential of Unreal Engine 5.
The expansion of Haenir Studio
Published on Steam on March 31, 2023, this brief update celebrated not only reaching 650,000 game wishlists but also heralded the studio’s expansion. This marks a significant step forward for the future of Blight: Survival.
Here’s an excerpt from Haenir Studio’s statement: “Thanks to your support and your attention, we’ve been able to make significant progress behind the scenes and we are happy to share that we have recently onboarded ten new veteran developers to our team.”
Undoubtedly, this is a truly important step that has not only allowed Haenir to expedite certain phases, bringing us closer to the game’s release, but also to raise the bar even higher. This will result in a product of higher quality and larger scale, which would likely have been challenging to achieve with just a two-person team.
With the growth and expansion of the team, the expectation is that Haenir Studio will have all the resources and means to approach the quality standard showcased in the gameplay reveal. Hopefully, in 2024, we might even get to see more gameplay footage in action.
Glimpses and insights into gameplay, combat, and character physics
In 2023, the development of Blight: Survival entered a particularly delicate phase. Throughout this year, developers diligently worked, dedicating substantial time to refine and perfect character animations and their subsequent interactions, as well as the effects they have on the game world, environmental obstacles, and enemies.
The gameplay reveal was undoubtedly a gamble, an ambitious way of saying, “This is the level of quality we aim to achieve, this is the final product we envision presenting to you.”
It’s clear, it won’t be easy. From that simple pre-alpha game concept, player expectations have skyrocketed, both regarding the game’s visuals and technical aspects, as well as the excellent craftsmanship of the animations and their splendid execution. And Haenir Studio is doing everything possible to ensure that the project’s followers’ expectations are not disappointed.
As you know, even the smallest details, which might seem trivial to some, are of great significance to most gamers. Consider, for example, how a weapon interacts and collides with a stone wall, the responsive feedback from enemies when struck, or the animation of an enemy being headshotted. Essentially, these are nuances that the vast majority of gamers won’t overlook. The team’s goal is clear: to approach as closely as possible to a realistic animation effect, faithful to reality.
Already in 2022, the team had showcased intriguing updates on X, specifically one focused on animations and the mechanics of the longbow, as well as demonstrations of the character’s movement and interactions with various elements like opening doors and gaps between walls to traverse.
Throughout 2023, as Haenir Studio expanded, the team embraced a different approach, especially in terms of communication. They aimed to engage more deeply with their community, both on the Discord channel and on X. This year was instrumental for development, enabling the team to listen their audience’s feedback and make the creation of Blight: Survival even more collaborative.
Starting from late May, as announced by the developers, to ensure greater transparency, the developers chose to share more work-in-progress updates. Notable among these are two important updates: the first delves into the weapon collision system, while the second focuses on an automated helmet-collision-avoidance mechanism. Additionally, they released another intriguing update concerning the lock-picking animation, a prototype still very much in progress.
With the recent launch of the Haenir Studio’s official X account, the developers unveiled an update this December centered on the melee combat of Blight: Survival. For the first time, players get a glimpse of the game’s directional combat system in action, allowing them to strike enemies from five different directions. The introduction of directional combat holds importance for multiple reasons. Primarily, it enables players to effectively target an enemy’s vulnerable points, dealing substantial damage. Moreover, as players progress, they’ll gain access to new abilities and combos, making your playstyle more sparkling.
Stages of Infection and New Characters: Updates from the latest Concept Arts
As revealed by Haenir Studio, both research and study have been fundamental steps in shaping the art of Blight: Survival. And we understand how complex and delicate it can be to accurately represent the medieval period, its customs, and traditions.
For this reason, Haenir’s art team has diligently researched European medieval armors from various cultures to faithfully reproduce them within the game. The goal is to capture the allure of medieval attire, the exquisite craftsmanship of armor, and provide players with diverse customization options. A standout example is one of the main concept arts shared on X by the developers, crafted by Ana, who has been the artist behind all concept arts showcased by the team so far.
The concept art in question showcases one of the many knight types from the “human factions” players will encounter in the game, reminding us that the infected won’t be the only threat.
Staying on the topic of “infected,” modern post-apocalyptic zombie-themed games have taught us the importance of variety in the contemporary gaming scene within this genre. Let us consider it, how important is it to provide players players ever-changing challenges, prompting them to adapt different approaches for each enemy? Think about franchises like The Last of Us and the unique patterns of iconic infected such as the Clickers and Stalkers, or the formidable Hunter from Dead Space.
“Forcing” players to adopt varying combat styles, employ different tactics, and react to unforeseen circumstances is a significant factor that fuels player creativity and keeps them glued to the screen.
In Blight: Survival, variety appears to be a given, at least based on what we’ve seen so far. One of our main concerns after viewing the first trailer and gameplay reveal, revolved around the nature of the infected and the stages of infection. According to the developers, the infected won’t merely be basic undead warriors varying in their armor; they will also differ based on the duration of their exposure to the infection.
This specific strain of the Blight infection grows, spreads, and thrives on the battlefield, feeding off blood. This leads us to speculate that where there’s more bloodshed and contamination, more powerful and grotesque monstrosities may arise. However, these are just our theories. The Blight infection, by all indications, operates as a fungal parasite, reanimating, infecting, and taking control of the bodies of deceased warriors.
What are the main distinguishing features of a Blight-infected individual? It’s the vacant stare, the ferocity, and the hunger with which they gaze upon you, coupled with the horrifying fungal manifestations that cover their bodies.
The most basic ones, the Rattlers, fallen on the battlefield and representing the initial and most common stage of infection, are also the first type of infected revealed by the developers. Common, clumsy, and not particularly intelligent, they don’t exhibit many distinctive traits except for the various deformities scattered across their bodies.
More unsettling and enigmatic are two different types of infected: firstly, the Bellower, a two-headed female infected who, as the name suggests, emits a powerful and distressing roar (likely to attract and awaken other infected). Secondly, the Swelter, a massive, misshapen infected with a fiery, malformed sac behind its back, suggesting that it might possess an inflammable or explosive component. Both of these unique variants exist solely as concept art and have not yet been showcased in any trailers or other demonstrative clips.
The platforms where Blight: Survival will be available
If you’ve been keeping an eye on Blight: Survival’s official account on X in recent months, you’ll already know that the developers have hinted several times about the platforms on which the game will be released.
Throughout 2023, Haenir has indeed confirmed, through various user response posts on the platform, that Blight: Survival will initially be released on PC (possibly in early access) before making its way to next-gen consoles.
The platforms on which, barring any further denials, the game will be available are: PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.
As for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch versions, there have been no definitive confirmations or refusals. Yet, considering the high standards of quality and performance the team aspires to uphold, we don’t expect major updates for these consoles unless Haenir Studio provides further information.
What’s in store for 2024?
This is a great question to which we can’t provide a definitive 100% answer, but we can make provide some educated guesses and predictions.
Firstly, it’s unlikely that Blight: Survival will launch in 2024. While the team has made commendable progress, the game is still deep in development, pointing toward a release more likely in 2025. As confirmed by Haenir, once the development progresses and the team is certain about deadlines, they will inform their community, perhaps with a clear roadmap.
The next step the team might take this year is to find a publisher who truly values the project, and establish a partnership for the game’s release, unless Haenir opts for self-publishing.
We expect to see more game footage unveiled by the team, possibly with a new trailer and content that delves deeper into the progress, development with Unreal Engine 5, and perhaps even a glimpse of some gameplay mechanics or extended in-game footage from an alpha or pre-alpha build.
It’s possible that by the end of 2024, the team might open a closed alpha testing to gather feedback from players and understand which aspects need refining or improvement. However, these are mere conjectures on our part. To truly understand what Haenir Studio has in store for us this year, we’ll simply have to wait…
That’s all for today. Wishing you a great start to 2024.
Talk to you soon.